Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed an explosion in the number of stories about bed bug infestations hitting the news.
Bed bug infestations have reemerged as a major problem in part because we no longer use the insecticide DDT. This pesticide had horrible environmental impacts, but it also kept the bed bug population in check. Bed bugs have also developed a resistance to insecticides, making them harder to kill. And not everyone is allergic to bed bugs, so you may not notice or develop a reaction to their bites.
Bed bugs are named as such because they can be commonly found living in your bed. They are nocturnal and feed on human blood. It’s a lot easier for them to bite humans when they’re asleep, so a bed makes an ideal home. While beds are one of their favorite places to hang out, that’s certainly not the only place you might find them. They can hang out on other types of furniture or hitch a ride on clothing or luggage. It’s not usual to find them in airplanes, movie theaters, libraries, and more.
It is important to know that bed bugs do not come from mattresses, rather, they can reside in or near the mattress due to the availability of their food source — a human.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs can be a costly and time-consuming process. If you believe you may have a bed bug problem, it’s a good idea to contact a pest specialist immediately (and your landlord, if you’re a renter).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shared their top tips for killing bed bugs:
Heat treatments: One of the best ways to kill bed bugs without the use of chemicals is a high-heat treatment. In order to treat your whole home, you would need the assistance of a professional. For smaller items, you may be able to use a clothes dryer on high heat (if, for example, you suspect that a hotel you recently stayed at had an infestation, you’d want to treat any clothes you took on your trip immediately). Some pest control companies will load your belongings into a large trailer and treat them with heat.
Cold treatments: Another alternative for smaller items — such as clothing — is to seal them in a bag and placing the bag in a freezer set to 0°F for at least four days.
Steam: A steam cleaner without a forceful air flow set to at least 130°F can be used to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. Steam and cold treatments may not be as effective as the heat treatment.
If you’re discarding any furniture, you should destroy it or mark it with “bed bugs” before throwing it out to discourage anyone from taking it home and exposing themselves to the bed bugs.
How to protect yourself against bed bugs
When you’re traveling, inspecting second-hand furniture, or suspect your home may have an infestation, you’ll want to look for some of the common signs of bed bugs. Reddish stains on sheets, the mattress, or box spring may be left where a bed bug had been crushed. You can also look for small dark spots that bleed on fabric (similar to a stain left by a marker) which may be a sign of the bug’s excrement.
Bed bug eggs are tiny and transparent, so they’re difficult to spot, but the EPA offers some images of the eggs here so you’ll know what to look for.
Like we said, bed bugs don’t just hide on mattresses. They are willing to travel quite far for a meal for such a little bug, so they can also be found in the seams or between the cushions of other furniture; in the joints of drawers, bed frames, and headboards; in electrical outlets and appliances; and even in the head of a screw. The more clutter there is in a room, the more opportunities there are for them to hide.
You may want to invest in a mattress encasement. These encasements are a type of mattress protector that covers all sides of the mattress, zips shut, and the zipper can be secured so that nothing can come in contact with your mattress — including bed bugs. You can also add these encasements to your box spring for extra protection. These encasements give bed bugs one less place to hide.
How we protect our customers from bed bugs
We only sell brand new products and do not allow used bedding products back into our showrooms. While it may seem like a good idea to bring your own pillow to the showroom when testing out mattresses, we cannot allow customers to bring them into the showroom for everyone’s protection. It’s why we require accessory items like pillows and mattress protectors to be donated for a refund instead of returned.
Our delivery teams are trained to look for signs of bed bugs when they are in customers’ homes and are instructed to leave immediately if there is a possibility of an infestation. We can offer a drop-off delivery in this cases, but for the protection of all of our customers and employees, we cannot enter the home.
Ready to start your mattress buying journey? Come to The Original Mattress Factory first. No one knows more than our team about what makes a great mattress great. Whether you buy from us or not, you’ll be better prepared to make a smart mattress buying decision. Find a store near you.